James Mortimer 10.Aug.2012Getty Images
Playing two 20 minute games, the All Blacks beat the Steelers 12-0 and followed this up with a 14-5 victory over Auckland.
The two ITM Cup teams then played each other in a 40 minute half, and Auckland won 26-7, although the presence of 13 players with Investec Super Rugby experience in the blue and whites gave them the edge.
This is the only match the All Blacks will get before facing the Wallabies in what is in many respects an opening trophy double header, The Investec Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney on August 18.
Notable among the formations was the selection of Tamati Ellison and Ben Smith in the midfield, while having to field two starting XVs led to some All Blacks forwards playing out of position.
While Counties might not have scored, they gave the All Blacks the run that coach Tana Umaga promised, with the home team smashing into rucks with venom, while some of their young eager forwards clearly relished going up against the World Champions.
The former All Blacks captain said that he didn't want to field all of his big guns, saying that the match presented Counties with the ideal opportunity to test their squad.
"Depth is important for the structure of this competition so we needed to find out who could step up to this level and we learned that tonight," he said.
Approximately 10,000 turned up for the event, and the crowd had the chance to mingle with all the players at the end of the match.
Hurricanes duo Julian Savea and Cory Jane scored against the Steelers, with the latter looking sharp despite a long lay off.
Despite their tries coming in the opening eight minutes, Counties gave as good as they got, putting the All Blacks under pressure on their line as the match closed off.
A five minute break then ensued, before a vastly more experienced Auckland team took the field.
Former All Blacks halfback Alby Mathewson made a statement scoring the opening try of the match, but the World Champions against hit back via their wings.
Hosea Gear scored a powerful try before Savea notched his second of the night with a great length of the field effort.